Certain travel destinations are made for winter. Lillehammer in Norway, the home of the 1994 Winter Olympics and the home for the upcoming 2016 Youth Olympic Games is one of those. Hence at least for us in Europe, Lillehammer goes hand in hand with ski-jumping, cross-country skiing, ice-hockey and downhill skiing. However, this small Norwegian town and its surroundings are also perfect for summer adventures.
What would you like to do in Lillehammer this summer?
Lillehammer for Adrenaline Junkies
Downhill biking. When the snow melts off the Hafjell mountain just fifteen kilometres north of Lillehammer, bikes come out and the season for downhill biking is about to begin. The trails range from beginner to expert level and Hafjell Bike Park has been the host to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup since 2012. In 2014 the elite of the bike world will again gather in Hafjell as the centre will be the host for the 2014 Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships. Age limit 10 years.
Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge track. Love speed? The 4-seater wheel-bobs can gather speed up to 100 km per hour and will definitely get your adrenaline running. The age limit is 10 years when accompanied by an adult and 12 years without.
Rafting. White water enthusiasts need to travel only 100 kilometres north of Lillehammer to get to the rafting and kayaking mecca of Sjoa. Sjoa was chosen by Rapid Media as the international white water town (or village) in 2013. Currently there are four operators offering rafting trips on the Sjoa and Otta rivers ranging from family trips on the more tranquil Otta river, to half-day and day trips on different sections on the Sjoa. And while there, why not also try riverboarding or canyoning?
Lillehammer for Outdoor Lovers
Hiking & trail running. The rolling mountains of the Lillehammer region are perfect for quick hikes and runs on the region’s trails, or longer overnight camping adventures off the beaten path. Besides camping, you can also stay in one of the many DNT (the Norwegian Trekking Association) cabins. See more details for trail suggestions, cabin locations and prices on the DNT website.
Mountain and road biking. If you don’t want to only go downhill, the region is also perfect for mountain and road biking. The small tracks and mountain roads take you through breathtaking scenery, while the asphalted roads on the valley floor are busy with competitive bike trainers in the summer season.
Birken. Worth the mention, and participation are the annual Birken events which gather thousands of sports enthusiasts to Lillehammer. You can choose from Birkebeinerrennet, a 54-kilometre ski competition, Birkebeinerløpet, a 21-km run or Birkebeinerrittet, 94.6-km bike race. Or you could do them all!
Lillehammer for Families
- Lilleputthammer – for the little ones. Lilleputthammer is essentially Lillehammer in miniature size with activities both indoors and outdoors for the small ones, suitable for kids from 1-8 years old.
- Lekeland – for the rainy days. Located right next to Lilleputthammer, Lekeland is a great escape if the weather turns sour. Filled with a maize of slides, steps and small suspension bridges, this indoor playpark will keep the kids busy for hours! There are separate areas for different age groups starting from under 1 year olds.
- Hunderfossen Family Park – Norwegian folklore themed amusement park for kids and adults alike. The park has a great collection of indoor and outdoor rides and an exciting waterpark. Only drawback is that certain rides only describe the folklore in Norwegian. Have a look at my visit to Hundrefossen in Destination Unknown.
- Barnes Gård – animal park, my all-time favourite. Spend a day with goats, puppies, bunnies and other farm and domestic animals. The kids (and adults) can feed and pet most of the animals in the idyllic “farm” atmosphere and even the very smallest ones (I first visited with a 8-month old) seem to enjoy the experience.
Other Things to See and Do in Lillehammer
There is a whole host of non-sporty activities in the area as well, and here are just some of them. For more ideas and inspiration see the Lillehammer tourism board website or you can also ask for more details from me and I would be happy to help!
- Maihaugen – an open air museum with 200 old and new buildings, exhibitions, cafes and plenty of activities, especially in the summer time.
- Lillehammer Art Museum – great place to cool down in the summer heat (or escape from the rain), the museum has changing exhibitions, cafe and a small shop.
- Park Cafe’n – best spot in Lillehammer for a sunny lunch or a cozy evening meal.
- Atelier Kakao – cozy little cafe on the Storgata, the main pedestrian street in the town. Worth a stop!
All Images: Lillehammer Turist AS